What is the Honda Jazz?
In a world where superminis seem to be getting lower and sportier, the Honda Jazz ploughs a different furrow – it’s effectively a shrunken-down MPV.
Since Honda rebooted the Jazz franchise to replace to the slow-selling and largely forgettable Logo in 2002, it’s been a spacious, well-built alternative to a slew of superminis, including the Ford Fiesta, Mazda 2, Renault Clio and Toyota Yaris.
- Top speed: 113-118mph
- 0-62mph: 8.4-11.9 seconds
- Fuel economy: 47-60mpg
- Emissions: 106-134g/km of CO2
- Boot space: 354-1,314 litres
Which versions of the Honda Jazz are available?
Honda’s fourth generation of Jazz is arguably the sportiest of them yet, with a lower-looking design that’s less immediately obvious as being a spacious five-door.
Whichever Honda Jazz Hatchback you choose, it will be propelled by a smooth-running four-cylinder petrol engine, with either a 1.3- or 1.5-litre engine. Diesel fans best look elsewhere, and Honda’s not offered the Jazz with a petrol-electric hybrid system since the Mk3 in the UK.
Trim levels follow the usual Honda system starting at S, progressing through SE and EX, culminating with Sport, although that’s only available with the 1.5-litre engine.
All Jazzes send their power to the front wheels with a choice of a six-speed manual transmission or a CVT.
Honda Jazz styling and engineering
Peel away the Jazz’s bodywork and you’ll find an adaptive platform that also underpins the larger Honda HR-V SUV. Fittingly, Honda’s titled it Global Small Car Platform.
Although it’s shorter than its immediate predecessor, the current Jazz has a longer wheelbase, liberating even more space, particularly for rear-seat passengers.
Build quality is excellent, but it has to be said the design is a bit of an acquired taste – Honda’s wasn’t in one of its golden eras for styling when this-generation Jazz appeared.
Inside, the Jazz is functional rather than delightful – it’s a bit of a flair-free zone and the plastics employed are the hard, unyielding variety. Still, it’s well screwed together to a high standard and it’s unlikely to break down on you.
Is the Honda Jazz good to drive?
One of the Jazz’s hidden talents is that for a car that doesn’t look like it’ll be all that engaging to drive it’s capable of surprising you. Okay, it’s no Civic Type R in either the handling or performance stakes, but it delivers superb body control and neat, accurate steering.
It’s a bit on the light side, but that makes it much easier to manoeuvre around town, but it feels nicely planted on motorways and windier country roads.
Ride quality can become a bit choppy if larger alloy wheels have been specified, but stick to the lower-priced trim levels and this is unlikely to be an issue.
How much does the Honda Jazz cost?
Hondas aren’t bargain purchases – that reliability and longevity comes at a price – so don’t expect to be able to pick a Jazz up cheaply whether buying outright or using a finance scheme.
However, dealers are willing to discount, so spend time shopping around before you commit to a purchase from your nearest franchise.
Find out what Honda Jazz drivers think of their cars with our comprehensive owners’ reviews.
Honda Jazz Model History
Third-generation Honda Jazz (2008-15)
With a sharper suit enveloping an even more spacious interior, the Mk3 Jazz illustrated that practical cars didn’t need to be flair-free zones, outside at least. The interior was different from the norm, but it wasn’t as provocatively unusual as its larger Civic sibling.
Engine choices were limited to 1.2- and 1.3-litre (but still badged 1.4) i-VTEC petrols at first, but from 2011 they were joined by a 1.3-litre petrol-electric hybrid. Although focused on economy, the electrical assistance made the Hybrid sprightly performers, although the CVT was rather noisy.
Hybrid models were also visibly different thanks to a clear plastic front grille and clear-lensed tail lamps.
Interior flexibility made them practical little things and light controls made them a doddle to drive around town.
Second-generation Honda Jazz (2002-08)
Honda dusted off the Jazz nameplate in Europe for its Logo-replacing small car that was called Fit everywhere else in the world.
Unlike the Logo, which was a humdrum, conventional small hatchback, the second-gen Jazz was more obviously a mini-MPV offering a surprising amount of space and flexibility in a small-car package. That said, the styling gave the game away – there was no pretense of it being anything other than a little holdall.
Two i-DSi-badged petrol engines were offered: a 1.2 and a 1.3, which Honda confusingly referred to as a 1.4 even though it was only 1330cc.
First-generation Honda Jazz (1984-85)
Many people are unaware that there was a Honda Jazz for a brief spell in the mid-1980s. As now, it slotted below the Civic, but was a three-door-only supermini in the conventional sense, not like the taller MPV-like models of recent times.
Outside Europe the car was called Honda City, but Germany’s Opel, as well as the Japanese brand’s then-partner Rover, already used the name across the continent.
Import restrictions for Japanese cars and a lack of real awareness among the public ensured it found few homes.